What is a well-intentioned astronomy instructor to do? There is no argument that experience with the real world is desirable in any astronomy course, especially the introductory classes that fulfill the science distribution requirements at many colleges and universities. Though it is a simple matter to take students out of doors, show them the motions of the Sun, Moon, and stars, and have them squint for a few seconds at Saturn's rings through a telescope, these activities represent only a small portion of the subject matter of modern astronomy. It is simply not possible, given the constraints of time, weather, and equipment at most schools, to have students determine the photometric distance of a star cluster, measure the dispersion distance of a pulsar, or confirm Hubble's redshift-distance relation for themselves. [excerpt]
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Marschall, L.A., G.A. Snyder, and P.R. Cooper. A Desktop Universe for the Introductory Astronomy Laboratory. The Physics Teacher (2000) 38(9):536-537.
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